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Brennan Center’s Myrna Pérez Confirmed to Federal Bench

The Senate has confirmed the voting rights advocate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Published: October 25, 2021
Myrna Perez
Myrna Pérez testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during her nomination hearing to be a federal appeals court judge. (AP)

The Senate today confirmed Myrna Pérez as a circuit judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Pérez will be the first Latina to sit on the Second Circuit since Sonia Soto­mayor was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is the first prom­in­ent voting rights attor­ney to join a federal appeals court since Thur­good Marshall more than half a century ago.  

Michael Wald­man, pres­id­ent of the Bren­nan Center for Justice, had this reac­tion to Pérez’s confirm­a­tion:

“We are extraordin­ar­ily proud of our colleague Myrna Pérez. She is bril­liant, passion­ate, and commit­ted to equal justice for all. She has been a leader in the great national move­ment to defend our demo­cracy, and a cher­ished leader at the Bren­nan Center. Now she will have a solemn oppor­tun­ity to serve and uphold the Consti­tu­tion and equal justice under law.

“For 15 years at the Bren­nan Center, she has fought for voting rights, most recently lead­ing our Voting Rights and Elec­tions Program. During that time she has won protec­tions for the right to vote for hundreds of thou­sands of fellow citizens, docu­mented misguided policies that make it harder for too many to vote, and persuaded states across the coun­try to enact auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion, a break­through innov­at­ive reform.

“As citizens we will be fortu­nate to have her service on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. For the Bren­nan Center as an organ­iz­a­tion, we regard this as a reminder of the import­ance of our work on behalf of demo­cracy and the Consti­tu­tion — and our commit­ment to carry­ing on Myrna’s work and her commit­ment to rigor and excel­lence. She’s built some­thing. And for so many of us here, we are thrilled for our friend.”

During her 15 years at the Bren­nan Center, Pérez’s path­break­ing work included: 

  • Author­ing a major report expos­ing the phenomenon of abus­ive voter purges in 2008 and a 2018 report show­ing that after the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision, voter purges soared in the juris­dic­tions previ­ously covered by the Voting Rights Act.
  • The success­ful lawsuit that blocked the harsh voter iden­ti­fic­a­tion law in Texas, includ­ing a victory at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Veasey v. Abbott). The original Texas law, a federal trial court ruled, required docu­ment­a­tion lacked by 608,000 registered voters.
  • National lead­er­ship on behalf of auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion (AVR), an innov­at­ive reform now in place in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Work­ing as legal coun­sel with voting rights advoc­ates in Flor­ida who success­fully worked to pass Amend­ment 4, which restored the right to vote for 1.4 million formerly incar­cer­ated citizens in Flor­ida. (Gov. Ron DeSantis later signed a law to once again deprive many of those citizens the right to vote; the Bren­nan Center, with allies, has chal­lenged that in court.)

As the director of the Bren­nan Center’s Voting Rights and Elec­tions Program (currently on leave), Pérez led a team of attor­neys, social scient­ists, research­ers, organ­izers, and admin­is­trat­ive staff. 

Pérez’s full biography is here